Pregnant On The Train

Pregnant On The Train

Something incredible happened on my train ride home yesterday.

A little background: My commute is a bit over an hour, door-to-door, and includes three different trains; I take two PATH trains and a NJ Transit. The PATH trains, especially the lines that route through Journal Square, are the worst to take if you are disabled in any way (perhaps I need to take a style tip from Duchess Kate and get one of those pins above). They are always crowded and more often than not, people are not very accommodating.

Back to yesterday and my commute home. I got on the first of my three train, the longest of the three rides at about fifteen minutes. I now stand close to the priority seating seats in the hopes that someone will a) be courteous and offer me a seat or b) if I do end up standing and begin to feel unwell, I can ask those in the priority seats for a seat. There I was, standing, taking deep breaths during the shaky turns, and just as I was putting my hair up to stay cool, I saw a tall, dark and handsome fellow from the other side of the train car making his way towards me. He outfit and tone calves made me think that he was a well-dressed bike messenger off-duty. He awoke the man in his mid-forties in the single priority seat and said, “Hope you had a good nap but I think it’s time to wake up for the pregnant woman who has been standing across from you this whole time.” Stunned, the man instantly jumped up and offered me his seat. I thanked the kind stranger who simply smiled, nodded and said, “Of course!” A woman by the door said, “I’m glad someone did the right thing and that chivalry is not dead! After all, it says priority seating for a reason.”

A heartiest thank you from the baby and me, dear stranger. If you are reading this, I hope it encourages you to perform a random act of kindness for someone today.

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Mr. Monday: Chambray

Mr. Monday: Chambray

My pregnancy brain thought I posted this yesterday but clearly I didn’t. Please enjoy this Mr. Monday post on a Tuesday instead and be thankful that it is no longer Monday!

One of the most versatile materials for men, year-round, is chambray (not to be confused with its big brother, demin). Chambray is a fine cloth of cotton, silk, or linen, commonly of plain weave with a colored warp and white weft. It is usually lightweight and still has the ability to hold a bit of structure. It is most commonly found in shades of blue and can be dressed up or down. Whenever Maithil can’t decide on a shirt to wear, my go-to suggestion is always one of his chambray shirts. Their only downside? They always need to be ironed because like any cotton/linen articles of clothing, chambray has a tendency to wrinkle. The trick to finding some unique, affordable pieces is to shop at the end of the season, especially since most shades of blue are not season specific. For example, this is the perfect time of year to get a major deal on summer-weight chambrays that can be worn right away or layered under sweaters. Here are a few great finds under $50:

chambray

Short-sleeved Chambray Shirt, $25

Bow-tie, $19

1901 “Eastport” Print Chambray Shorts, $32.70

Slim Bedford Pant, $44

Soludos Espadrilles, $40

Top image via

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Being Mindful

Being Mindful

My mother-in-law had knee replacement surgery about two weeks ago and has since been recovering at a rehabilitation center. Her progress has been great and she will be moving home soon. However, yesterday during physical therapy, there was an exercise that she just could not do because of the pain that it caused. This one event led her down a spiraling path of thinking about aging and how her world will significantly change as she becomes older and less mobile. Her roommate is a 95-year-old woman who is permanently hooked up to an oxygen pump and is bound to a wheel chair; I am certain that this is not helping her outlook. My mother-in-law is in her early 70s and one of the strongest women I have ever known. Hearing her be this vulnerable only heightened my recent thoughts on aging and raising children in an unfair world.

I’ve been following, creator of Humans of New York, Brandon Stanton’s trip to Pakistan and the atrocities that the brick kiln workers in Pakistan face on a daily basis. It is slave labor in its truest form. What’s worse is that even the local police support the kiln owners so justice is nearly impossible. Brandon’s work is raising awareness and bringing in much needed aid. What will happen once he leaves? Will these crimes ever fully stop? The hopeful part of me says yes, this can and will end. But the realistic part of me tells me that I certainly know better.

My news roll has recently consisted of updates on ISIS, the #blacklivesmatter movement, fatal bombings, and the idiocies of presidential hopeful, Mr. Donald Trump. Is it fair to raise children in this type of a chaotic and unpredictable world? (Apparently this is a very common question that creeps into the minds of most pregnant women.) I guess my real task, as a parent, is to raise compassionate, curious, aware, hard-working children who understand how society works and who do not take their comfortable lives for granted. Ever.

In the meantime, I have also been trying to find ways to giving my mind a break from being on over-drive. Over-thinking comes naturally to me and I am quickly learning that the goal, rather, should be to be mindful. Maithil recently shared a TED Talk with me that rang all too true. In it, former monk, Andy Puddicombe poses a very relevant question: “When is the last time you did absolutely nothing for 10 whole minutes?” My answer: I can’t think of one such instance so maybe never? The talk, a quick watch, focuses on meditation and the importance of being mindful. It’s certainly made me curious enough to want to read his book to learn more.

How are you feeling these days? How do you cope with everything that is happening in the world, regardless of how far removed you are from it? Here’s blogger Joanna Goddard’s, of A Cup of J0, take on anxiety.

Top Image by Humans of New York

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Dinner Inspiration

Dinner Inspiration

Being 30 weeks pregnant, having an active 16-month-old toddler and working full-time has taught me that elaborate weeknight dinners are no longer feasible. I have to save the more complicated, time-consuming recipes for the weekends. Thus, I am constantly on the lookout for quick, healthy and delicious recipes that pair well with seasonal ingredients. The goal, every night, is to either eat by around 7pm, soon after we get home from work and picking up Rian from daycare or eating soon after his bedtime, meaning no later than around 9pm. The 7pm time-frame means prepping in the morning or the night before while the 9pm time-frame means prepping once we get home and then putting it all together post Rian’s nightly routine. I keep a running list of recipes bookmarked for inspiration and ideas. Desserts, especially those containing chocolate, always seem to find their way onto this list (sorry I am definitely not sorry). My current recipe list includes the following:

Chickpea Curry by The Pioneer Woman

Chickpea Curry by The Pioneer Woman

And of course those amazing, scrumptious, dreamy Cookies & Cream Cookies by Glazed & Confused (top image)

I’d love to know what you are making for dinner tonight. What’s your favorite go-to recipe?

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How To Score Big At A Sample Sale

How To Score Big At A Sample Sale

I had never really heard of sample sales until my first job. My department, merchandising, was an integral part to providing the samples for the sale. It was always such a glorious effort, pulling out hundreds of bags, wallets, clothes, all while making a mental note of the items I knew I had to make a bee line for at the sale. The Coach sales are for employees only. But, I soon learned that many brands have sample sales that are open to the general public. Navigating and really scoring a great deal at one of these sales takes strategy and planning. Without a plan, they can just be overwhelming and disappointing. Here are some tricks that have always worked for me and my wallet:

Stay Informed: Consult a trusted source for a daily/weekly list of sample sales. Racked NY is my go-to and they also list sales for LA, Miami and San Francisco.

Timing Matters: If a sale spans over a week, go on day one or two and then again on the last day, if possible. As the week progresses, choices typically dwindle. But, often on the last day, the leftovers will get marked down even more. Also, on your first visit, ask a staffer the following:

What is your replenishment schedule? This way, you can always return when there is plenty of fresh stock.

What sizes or styles have the largest inventory? The sample shoe size is usually 6 or 9.

Can I place items on hold? If so, how long will you hold them for? On occasion, some brands will let you place items on hold until the end of the day.

What forms of payment do you accept? Some can often be cash only.

Always keep a smile on your face during this conversation. It’s the best way to obtain any extra insider information.

Usually the scene at he start of a sample sale

Usually the scene at the start of a sample sale

A Quick vs A Deliberate Walk-through: The chaos of a sample sale can often be stressful. When  you first arrive, do a quick walkthrough to get a lay of the land. Make a mental note of the areas that of interest to you and order them in terms of priority. Then, walkthrough the space with intention and a purpose. This is the best way to stay organized and make the most of your time.

One of the shoe racks at a Tory Burch sample sale

One of the shoe racks at a Tory Burch sample sale

Collect Now, Sort Later: During your deliberate walk, pick up any and all items that are a maybe or a yes. Items go quickly at a sample sale so a maybe” shirt that later turns into a “yes” may be long gone by the time you return. Collect everything as you go and do a final sort through by a mirror, if possible, before paying.

Miscellaneous Tips:

Keep cash on hand.

Be ready to rummage through several items before you find something great. Perseverance is key.

Give yourself a time limit or you may end up being there for hours.

Be proud of your purchases! A great deal always puts a smile on my face.

And most importantly, here is the list of sales going on this month in NYC. 

All images via Racked NY

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The Parenthood: Lev Kuperman

The Parenthood: Lev Kuperman

We met wedding photographer Lev Kuperman by chance. We were actually meeting with another photographer for our wedding and he explained that Lev would be helping with our shoot. As luck would have it, we actually loved Lev’s personality and his ability to capture special moments in a very unique, story-telling way. But mostly, we were just able to connect better with him. So we ditched the other photographer and made Lev our  main man. That was nearly five years ago. Since then, Lev quit his day job to focus on his business. A very wise leap of faith, Lev! He and his wife, Rachelle, moved from Brooklyn to Maplewood, NJ and they had baby Noah in December of 2014. As if his schedule was not busy enough between travelling, shoots and family time, he is now also offering WRKSHP, an intensive workshop on wedding photography (sold out for its first session; more to come soon I’m sure). In this second installment of The Parenthood series, here`s a closer look into Lev`s day-to-day, with father being his most important title.

Lev polaroid

1. What is your daily routine?

Wake up with Noah around 7am. Make coffee, help with Noah’s morning feeding routine and make breakfast for Rachelle and I. Our nanny comes around 9am as Rachelle heads off to work, and I’m usually drinking my second cup of coffee by then and answering emails for a couple of hours. Then around noon I usually hit the gym or go for a long walk with our dog Hazel. Lunch afterwards and then on to photo editing for the next four hours. Answer more emails, edit more photos, make dinner, put Noah to bed, watch half a movie with Rachelle before we both pass out on the couch and then make our way upstairs to bed around 2am.

Baby Noah and Hazel

Baby Noah and Hazel (I can’t decide who is cuter!)

Hazel

2. What is your typical breakfast? Lunch? Dinner?

Breakfast: Black coffee made in a Chemex, two organic eggs with mushrooms and spinach, sometimes sausage or bacon, and always avocado.

Lunch: I’ll either make grilled chicken with sweet potato and broccoli or if I’m super swamped I’ll order something simple like a couple of salmon avocado rolls with brown rice.

Dinner: We make chicken, steak and fish on our grill pretty regularly, usually with yams and some sort of vegetables and red wine. Sometimes if we’re lazy we’ll get take out Thai or Mexican or Sushi. Once in a while we’ll get pizza from a local brick oven place. Have been on a clean eating kick lately so haven’t had much pizza but the fat kid inside of me could eat pizza for basically every meal. If we can get a babysitter, we go into NYC for dinner. Our current favorites are Momofuku Noodle Bar and Rucola in Brooklyn.

Breakfast on a trip to the Catskills

Breakfast on a trip to the Catskills

3. What is your everyday style?

Hipster dad style, I guess. At home, it’s a  v-neck T-shirt from J.Crew and shorts so I’m comfortable behind a desk, slip on Vans or Birkenstocks for running errands and Nike Free’s for gym and walks.  If I’m going to a portrait shoot or to meet friends in the city I’m usually dressed in black jeans or chinos with a button down shirt (J.Crew, Urban Outfitters, Topman) and brown leather shoes (Timberland Wodehouse – my favorite shoes ever). I’ve had a few T-shirts creep into my wardrobe lately which I’m happy about.

Lev_glasses

Noah - hipster in the making

Noah – hipster in the making

4. Tell me more about the work that you do. (Did you always know this is what you wanted to do? Do you go into an office or do you work from home? Do you love what you do? What does the future hold?)

I’m a wedding photographer and I absolutely love what I do.  I work from home and travel all over for weddings and portrait shoots. I’ve always done creative things in my life as hobbies but I didn’t really know how to go about turning my love for something into a real career. It wasn’t until we started planning our wedding in 2009 that I realized how amazing wedding photography is and that people can actually make a living through it.

Lev_Rachelle wedding

Image by CLY Creation

I decided to just dive in and learn everything I could about it and figure out how to establish a business. After a few years of working a day job and doing a full load of weddings, I decided that I had to quit my job to focus on weddings full time. That was almost three years ago and I have to say it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. As for the future, I’m just excited to see how I can grow my wedding business and branch off into commercial work as well. Rachelle is quitting her job to be with Noah during the day but the long term goal is for her to help grow my business. Exciting!!

Camera Back pic

5. What are some of the most memorable shoots that you’ve had? Why? (Was it because of the location, the couple, the actual event, etc?)

There have definitely been shoots in amazing locations and weddings with celebrity guests but honestly the thing that always stands out for me is my connection with the couples. Sometimes everything just clicks and you’ve got an amazing couple, in a beautiful location, having a wedding that’s totally unique to them and they’re in the moment and emotional and everyone’s crying tears of joy and as the photographer you’re given access to really moving and personal moments. My job becomes just being sensitive and in the moment right along with the couple and to capture moments in an honest way (while holding back my own tears).

A wedding in the Catskills

A wedding in the Catskills

A frame from a wedding

A frame from a wedding

couple

A close-up of a couple on their big day

6. Any advice for aspiring photographers/creatives?

Learn everything about your camera, become one with it (that was so cheesy, but still true). Your camera (or whatever you use as a creative) becomes your tool for personal expression and that’s essentially what you get hired for. Generic work sucks. Make something personal and people will connect with you.

(Note: I bet you can gain much more insight into the world of wedding photography through the WRKSHP.)

wrkshp

WRKSHP is a joint venture with Forged in the North (image by them)

7. When did you move to NJ? Why? Any favorite spots in the neighborhood?

We moved to Maplewood in May 2011 because we wanted more space and a simpler life. I’m a drummer and now I have a basement (only drummers will understand how amazing that is).  I also have an office which is great. We can be in NYC in 35 minutes on the train which is actually shorter than it took us on the F train from Park Slope. As for local spots, there’s a really good bakery in town that has great coffee and pastries called The Able Baker.

maplewood

A birds-eye view of Lev`s street

Drums

The drum set

8. How do you and Rachelle balance work and life? Any special tips?

It’s tough, especially with our baby Noah’s schedule. I think the key is splitting up responsibilities and chores so that no one gets resentful and making sure you have a regular date night where you can spend quality time together.

Noah pool

9. How often do you and Rachelle have a chance to go on a date night? Describe one of your favorite dates.

We go out once a week. Nothing too extravagant, just dinner and a movie. I think when Noah’s a bit older it will be easier to leave him for longer stretches of time with a babysitter but for now we’re still in hibernation mode.

10. What advice would you give to Noah when he is ready to become a parent?

Oh geez. Really? I’d say work on yourself first, work on your relationships, work on your career, achieve your goals, become the best version of yourself. Then when your child arrives, smother them with love.

whole fam

Noah_smile

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Mr. Monday: The Making of a Football Enthusiast

Mr. Monday: The Making of a Football Enthusiast

Before meeting Maithil, I rarely watched football. But my interest piqued after we began dating. His passion and love for the sport at both the college and  professional level made me both curious and excited. Nearly six years later, I know and enjoy football more than I ever thought possible. The social aspects of the game, from the snacks and greasy foods to the live media commentaries and postings, add an extra level of fun for me. The tweets towards the end of last year’s Super Bowl made me everything from angry to sad to happy; it was quite the emotional roller-coaster. Currently, I am really enjoying all of the coverage that Russell Wilson is receiving for his monster $87.6M four-year contract. Here’s Maithil’s take on how to make most anyone a football enthusiast and hopefully a full fledged fan.

The Snackadium

The Snackadium

Who’s ready for some football? I know I am. The NFL training camp started last week and I can’t even begin to express my excitement. I can see how some people find it hard to understand this enthusiasm for a physical sport that, on the surface, seems to be nothing more than a way for men to satisfy their hunger for raw power and violence. But it’s so much more than that. The beauty of the sport is how a team, with the constraints of a draft and a salary cap that helps “distribute” talent, can find a way to be better than 31 other teams to become champions of the sport. This requires the perfect mix of intelligence, raw talent, coaching, team work, grit, strategy, fans, and countless other ever changing factors. Football is about the heart and the head. Football is truly unique. Football is awesome! However, it’s difficult to explain this to someone who doesn’t appreciate the sport. Pooja was this someone when I met her a little over six years ago. Challenging as it was, I have converted her into being a football enthusiast (and almost a fan)! With a bit of luck and the strategy below, I think anyone can be converted into at least a football “enthusiast”.

1. Frame it as quality time together: For a non-believer who doesn’t appreciate the sport, the thought of spending hours watching something they don’t enjoy could be a turn off. Hence, it’s very important to frame the situation in positive and appealing manner. What spouse or significant other does not want to spend quality time together? Follow through by paying attention to the person’s reaction and keeping them involved by explaining the details of what is happening. Your passion, energy and enthusiasm are contagious and after a while, the non-believer will want to share in that excitement as well.

2. Help them relate to a team or a player: Pooja began watching football with me when Russell Wilson, QB of the Seattle Seahawks, had just started playing football at my alma mater, The University of Wisconsin, Madison. Russell is a great guy and an even better athlete so he was the perfect conduit between football and Pooja. She started watching a lot of the college games with me because of Russell and gained a much deeper understanding of the sport. This naturally continued after Russell came to the NFL. I also consistently kept her informed about the whole process that Russell went through in getting drafted, how the salary cap impacts teams, the training camp, preseason and finally the regular season. It was easy to continue the conversation since Seattle eventually reached the post-season and even won the Super Bowl in 2014. (We are still not fully over the last Super Bowl loss.) Now Pooja follows Russell Wilson on social media and updates me on things before I even read about them. Needless to say, her favorite team is the Seattle Seahawks and her favorite player is Russell Wilson.

Seattle Seahawks Training Camp

Seattle Seahawks Training Camp Day 3

3. Take them to the game: Watching the game on TV is great, especially if you are watching it with friends who love the sport. But, it is a whole different experience when you watch it live. There is no way someone would not enjoy the sport if they got the whole experience by tailgating before the game and then watching it live with a group of friends. I have yet to do this with Pooja. It doesn’t help that we enjoy watching the Seahawks and they play the majority of their games on the West Coast. The next time they travel to the East Coast, I plan to take Pooja to the game and finally turn her from an enthusiast to a true fan!

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Guest Post: Effortless Summer Makeup by Alexandra Dale

Guest Post: Effortless Summer Makeup by Alexandra Dale

Today’s guest post is by the masterful, Boston-based Makeup Artist, Alexandra (Ali) Dale. I have now known her for about 15 years and it’s incredible to see how she had translated her passion into a career. Below, Ali provides a step-by-step on how to achieve an natural, everyday summer look. Enjoy!

I was so excited when my high school friend Pooja reached out to me about doing a guest blog post on a clean and effortless summer makeup look. I have a true a passion for making makeup fun and accessible to the everyday makeup user. For this simple summer look, I used long-wearing products that feel light and look natural on the face. It’s modeled after the “no-makeup makeup” looks that are used frequently in runway shows and beach photo shoots. It also requires only six products and two tools, making it ideal for vacations or the office! This complexion-focused look is also a great base to work off of when creating a more dramatic look for evening (by adding more eye makeup and a brighter lip color).  Follow the steps and images to re-create this look.

Post title

Products:

  • Stila Stay All Day® 10-In-One HD Illuminating Beauty Balm With Broad Spectrum SPF 30
  • MAKE UP FOR EVER Pro Bronze Fusion in 20M
  • SEPHORA COLLECTION Smoothing & Brightening Concealer in #5 Radiant Peach
  • Hourglass Arch Brow Sculpting Pencil in Soft Brunette
  • tarte Lights, Camera, Flashes™ Statement Mascara in Black
  • MAKE UP FOR EVER Artist Plexi-Gloss in 301P

1. Six essential items

Tools:

7. Tools Beauty Blender, powder brush

Step-by-step:

1. Apply a few small dabs of BB cream to fingertips. A BB cream is great for a lightweight summer foundation. It doesn’t give a lot of coverage, so some of your skin will show through, giving a more natural finish to the makeup. If you’d like more coverage just apply your powder foundation over your BB cream. Product used: Stila BB Cream which is both water resistant and has SPF 30.

Step 1

2. With your fingertips, apply BB cream around the face avoiding the eye area. Start in the middle of the face and blend outwards. Don’t worry about it looking streaky, because we’ll perfect the skin later with a Beauty Blender.

Step 2

3. Take a concealer and apply it 360 degrees around the eye (lid, brow bone and underneath the eye). Again, this will look streaky and that’s okay! Product used: Sephora Smoothing & Brightening Concealer which gives great coverage but has a lightweight texture, helping eliminate those dreaded creases around the eye area.

Step 3

4. Take your slightly damp Beauty Blender sponge and press-and-roll the sponge around the face to smooth out the BB cream.

Step 4

5. Next, move the Beauty Blender around the eyes to blend out any hard edges of the concealer.

Step 5

6. Now it’s bronzer time! Using a medium-sized powder brush, dust the bronzer where the sun naturally hits you on the forehead and cheeks; be sure to also lightly apply some along the jawline to add some definition. You can apply some to the bridge of your nose as well to get a sun-kissed effect. Tip: To transition this look for evening, apply blush to the apples of your cheeks and a little highlighting powder to the top of the cheek bone. Product used: Make Up For Ever Bronzer which is a gel to powder formula that goes on smoothly, is waterproof, and gives a subtle warmth to the skin.

Step 6

7. We will now move to the eyebrows. Using a retractable, angled brow pencil is easy and provides a subtle yet defined look which stays put all day. Use a short sketching motion to apply the pencil to your brow area. Use the spooly at the other end to pick up excess pigment and give the brows natural hair texture. Product used: Hourglass Arch Brow Sculpting Pencil which has colors that match brow tones perfectly and lasts forever! I’ve been using mine for months and it still hasn’t run out. Great investment product.

Step 7

8. & 9. The last two steps are super quick and simple: Throw on your mascara, making sure you add a lot of product to the root of the lashes, since we’re not using any eyeliner to define the eyes. Mascara will give definition to the eyes but keeps the look fresh and bright. Lastly, swipe on a lightweight gloss to give a hint of color and shine to the lips. Heavy lipsticks can be a bit much during the summer months and need to be touched-up frequently. Product used: Tarte Lights Camera Flashes Mascara which instantly separates and adds volume to lashes; Make Up For Ever Plexi Gloss Lip Gloss which wears well, feels light (not super sticky) and comes in every color imaginable. One of my favorite glosses out there.

Step 8

Step 9

Et voilà! Doesn’t Ali look gorgeous? Thanks Ali for these easy tips and tricks for this beautiful look. Can’t wait to try it!

9. After (2)

To reach Ali:

Alexandra Dale, Makeup Artist

Alexandradalemakeupartistry.com

Alexandratdale@gmail.com

Facebook: Alexandra Makeup Artistry

Instagram: AlexandraMakeupArtistry

Mobile: 413-364-7875

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Mr. Monday: The Art Of Shaving

I never realized that there was an actual art to men’s shaving until I saw Maithil rotate through products until he found the right ones. “It wasn’t until my early to mid-twenties that I figured out that I needed more than just some shaving cream and a razor with multiples blades. The right products, especially ones that suit your skin and hair type, make a world of difference,” Maithil explained to me. It should be noted that he has dark, manageable, not-too-thick hair that he needs to shave about twice a week. He has tried many different products, including those from Harry’s, Gillette, Art of Shaving, and even soap/conditioner and water. His current favorites leave his face silky smooth, almost cut and nick-free and smelling wonderful.

Men's Shaving Products

1. Gillette Fusion Proglide Power Razor With Flexball Handle and 2. Razor Blades

3. Jack Black Beard Lube Conditioning Shave

4. The Art of Shaving Pure Badger Brush

5. The Art of Shaving Sandalwood Shaving Cream

6. Anthony After Shave Balm

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Mani-Pedi Combos

Getting a manicure/pedicure is that one little luxury that I always wish I had more time for in my schedule. I keep telling myself that it is not a priority and thus, it rarely happens. Plus, when we lived in Hoboken, I could walk just around the block and find two or three salons whereas now, I have to drive at least ten minutes to the closest salon or fit it in post-work and take a later train home. But, what I recently realized is that I can easily give myself a mani-pedi at home while Rian naps. It would not be as relaxing and the results would most likely not be as perfect as having someone else do my nails, but I am sure that it would make me feel better and a bit more polished. These are the colors that I am hoping to pair when I actually put this thought into practice, hopefully this weekend.

Nails

The Summer Matching Combo: Dior Tra La La + Deborah Lippmann Lullaby of Broadway

The Complementary Combo: Butter London Tiddly + Nars Thasos

The Darker Combo: Essie Picked Perfect + Deborah Lippmann Laughin to the Bank (Shm)

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